I was sun burned, tired, and the wind started howling. It was deperate times in Arizona bear country by 11:30am. I was on the brink of calling it a day. After 45 minutes of glassing a canyon and another 30 minutes of calling, by chance I decided to give one more look to a part of the canyon I had already looked over twice.
As I tracked a steep boulder covered vein in the canyon side my binoculars picked up the slightest movement. What looked like a black and brown boulder picked its head up and stuck its nose in the
air. It was a massive color phased black bear. The bear was approximately 800 yds from where I sat across a brutal canyon. He appeard to be dark brown with a light brown patch between his shoulder blades. A stunning sight.
The few seconds it took for me to look up from my binoculars and describe to my hunting partner where this bear stood, he had bound off the boulder making a b-line for the canyon bottom. Heading our way.... I picked the bear up through the thick canopy of trees galloping towards us. I could see him pickup the pace as I called, then slow down when I stopped. Just before he entered a thick oak flat at the bottom of the canyon, I caught a picture of him through my binoculars. I believe him to be 400yds away at this point.
My intial reaction to seeing this bear was that it would end up being the biggest bear I have killed to date. Exceeding the bear I killed in spring of 2007 that had a 20 10/16" skull. He appeared to have a very large body for the time of year. My hands were shaking as I watched him.
As he entered the oak flat I lost any sight of the bear. Because his path was heading directly for me I wasn't concerned. I figured he would emerge from the brush any minute... presenting a perfect shot. It never happened; that picture I snapped was the last I saw of the bear. I proceeded to call and glass for the next hour and a half with absolutely no response. The bear couldn't have been more than 400yds straight down the canyon from me. I don't know what happened. Big old boars like him have a knack for not getting killed... so perhaps he caught my scent, got tired, maybe I called to loud, maybe he decided it was to much work to climb the steep canyon for a dying rabbit? I will never know.The ten minutes watching that bear and the proceeding hour and a half ended my 2010 spring bear hunt. Uncharacteristically, as I hiked back to my truck, I took a second to absorb the scenery and give thanks for the opportunity to share a mountain canyon with such an awsome animal.
"Bears keep me humble. They help me to keep the world in perspective..."
Wayne Lynch ("Bears: Monarchs of the Northern Wilderness", 1993)